April 18, 2017

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MARTIN, Tenn. – After tying the game in the bottom half of the eighth inning, the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team’s freshman lead-off hitter Connor Aube drilled a shot down the left field line to drive in the game winning run, as the Skyhawks completed the late inning comeback on Tuesday night to take down Evansville 9-8.

Aube finished the game 4-5 in what was his third four-hit performance of the season, as UT Martin (13-20, 4-11 OVC) improved to a stellar 11-6 on their home field this year.

“The biggest thing I see in Connor is that he is maturing,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “The key for all freshman is can they catch their second wind in April and keep up the intensity it takes to play at this level. Aube has done that lately, and has really done a good job for us.”

Winston Cannon took the mound for the Skyhawks on what was a scheduled staff day and surrendered a trio of hits in the first that resulted in two Evansville runs to put the visitors up 2-0.

The Skyhawks biggest inning came in the second inning, as UT Martin pushed across four runs on six total hits. Aube, Tanner Wessling, Keylen Steen and Josh Hauser all picked up RBI-singles in the inning as the Skyhawks took the 4-2 lead after two complete.

Evansville’s (12-23, 4-5 Missouri Valley) Trey Hair launched a two-run shot in the top of the third to square things up 4-4. It was the Purple Aces who broke the tie in the fourth inning with a three-run outburst to reclaim the 7-4 advantage.

UT Martin picked one back up in their half of the fourth, as Creighton Eldridge led off the inning with a triple down the right field line and was later brought home on a sacrifice fly by Steen. It was the catcher’s second RBI on the day and it pulled the Skyhawks closer 7-5.

An RBI-single from Stewart Nelson in the fifth pushed the Purple Aces’ lead back to three, as Evansville led 8-5 after five innings. UT Martin loaded the bases in bottom of the sixth, but were unable to come away with any runs as the score remained the same after six.

Another chance with the bases loaded propelled the Skyhawks to two runs in the seventh, as Steen drew a walk to bring home the first run in the inning, while an RBI-fielder’s choice from Aube brought UT Martin within one heading into the eighth inning.

Skyhawk reliever Sam Folks tossed a solid eighth inning, before giving way to his offense in the bottom half. Tyler Albright led off the inning taking a hit-by-pitch from Evansville closer Brandon Gomer. Senior Ryan Helgren then drilled a double into deep right-center field to score Albright all the way from first and even the score at 8-8.

UT Martin then turned to reliever Alex Evans to shut down the 2-3-4 hitters in the Evansville lineup to set the stage for the bottom of the ninth. Steen was plunked by another Gomer offering, before being sacrificed over to second by pinch-hitting Caleb Brewer. That brought Aube to the plate, as he nailed a pitch from the Evansville closer down the left field line to score Steen and give the Skyhawks the 9-8 walk-off victory.

Evans (4-4) picked up the win for his effort in the ninth, while Gomer (1-2) took the loss for the Purple Aces. Evans, Folks and Shane Seckinger combined for a scoreless final 3.1 innings to keep the Skyhawks within reach.

Aube (4-5, three RBI’s), Helgren (3-5, one RBI), Wessling (2-5, two runs scored), Eldridge (2-5, one triple) and Steen (2-2, three RBI’s) all notched multi-hit efforts in the victory, while UT Martin as a team pounded out 16 hits.

The Skyhawks return to action tomorrow night as they host Christian Brothers. First pitch from Skyhawk Field is slated for 6 p.m.

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